Saturday, October 6, 2012

Indonesian Chocolate Drink

Sisters and Brothers, today is our first feature for the 2012 Halloween Treat Challenge but it today is also special because it marks the first Asian chocolate company or product we have featured on The Chocolate Cult. Grek brings our geographical range now to four continents with North America, South America, Europe, and Asia with numerous countries.  I need to find a map to make for you all so you can see how wide our current reach is and how far we have left to go before we can really say we are exploring and sharing chocolate worldwide.  Grek Chocolate and Coffee had a website but that seems to have disappeared, a bit disconcerting because we'll we've seen businesses fail within a year or two of featuring them, to have one disappear within two weeks of a sample arriving is very odd.  They do have a Facebook presence you may check out but it doesn't seem to have much information.  If they ever reclaim their website or their representative gets back to me, I'll update this information for you all.

A chocolate drink, of course, should be tested as the creator intended but here we run into a little problem: the directions are very simple on the boxes, a bit too simple, but at least they are in English.  I'm going to show you the difference between the Black and Spanish varieties in the mix itself and then again once it is a hot beverage before I describe the full sensory experience of drinking it.  To the left you see the ingredients you need: the Greek cocoa plus sugar (left container) and powdered milk (right container) and of course water but do I really need to show you all that?  The directions are an odd mixture of metric and American with 1 T sugar, 1 T powdered milk, and 2 T cocoa mix all blended together with 200 ml of hot water.

Let's compare the unmixed cocoa itself.  Here you can see on the left the Spanish and on the right the Black variety.  It is clear that the Black is indeed darker than the Spanish but I hope you can also see white mixed in with both.  The ingredient list only says "chocolate creamer foam" so is the white dried creamer?  I don't know so if you have any food allergies that you need to be cautious with around chocolate, you'd want to avoid this or at least be very careful with it.  Did this color difference survive the transformation into a hot beverage?

No, it didn't.  As you can see the two cups (left is Black, right is Spanish) are basically the same in color.  Any difference has been masked by either the liquid or by the added dry ingredients.  Both have a strong cocoa scent to them and both clumped up a good deal, I had to break up the clumps and work them but eventually they did melt or get worked in.  Surprisingly I didn't need to keep stirring to keep the liquid and cocoa mixed well and I can't even say that about most of the American, Canadian, or European cocoas we've featured here over the past three years.

Since I suspect the Spanish variety is less cacao content, I'm going to start with it in terms of drinking.  It has a very smooth taste, not overly sweet or bitter, the recommended ingredients were perfectly balanced for my mouth.  There is a slightly earthy aftertaste that reminds me of single origin chocolate bars.  The Black variety has a more bitter and deeper cocoa scent even if it looks identical in the cups.  The taste is definitely more bitter and has an almost coffee like edge to it with a cocoa aftertaste that reminds me of 75% or higher chocolate bars.  If you are used to strong cocoa or coffee, go for the Black but if you like a creamier hot chocolate then select the Spanish version.

Hot chocolate isn't a great trick or treating idea, is it?  If the parents of all those kids showing up at your door don't want you to hand out apples, imagine how much less they want their kids sipping something you hand them.  There is also nothing particularly Halloween about this product but the company wanted to submit it to our Challenge.  You could use it for a Halloween party with either kids, adults, or both but making large quantities of hot beverages can be a bit tricky.  Instead this is more a small group or individual drink that you could have in place of coffee.

Indonesia is one of the major producers of cocoa beans in the world, ranking number two in the latest 2012 numbers I could find. (1)  Currently they are quickly approaching the 20% mark for world cacao growth and this makes their products and their farming techniques important to us all.  Encouraging local Indonesians to use their own cocoa beans and create their products for sale locally, regionally, and internationally could have two effects. They may choose to follow the old European model that didn't care very much about how the cocoa was grown only that it got into consumers hands.  They might choose a more sustainable route that environmental and workers rights group are promoting.  Which way they go will in large part be decided by you and I as consumers, Sisters and Brothers.

1: The Top 5 Cocoa Bean Producing Countries


Bunyawan said...

never mind that I'll see grek in this blog, I think that grek only famous in Cilacap or central java. really good because I love to drink grek cholate actulay actually strawbery choco.. :D and I hope world will know that Indonesia have a nice cholate drink and it is Grek cholate. thanks for post this, and I think I must open your blog to see other producs.. :)

TammyJo Eckhart said...

Thanks for commenting, Bunyawan.

We were honored to be able to feature an Asian chocolate product and this was great.

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